Alastair Majury on the importance of True Grit — Passion and Perseverance
The psychologist Angela Duckworth defines grit as passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals. Alastair Majury personally agrees.
The psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that a person’s level of stick-to-itiveness or grit is directly related to their level of success. No big surprise there. But grit, she says, isn’t something you’re born with — it can be learned.
We should redefine genius, if you will. Alastair Majury thinks most people use the word “genius” as somebody who has an intellectual gift which is far greater than what most people have in a given area, in music or in mathematics, in running or in dancing. And by that natural ability, they’re going to far excel the rest of us, almost by destiny. Alastair thinks that is what most people use the word genius for.
Mr Majury believes that we should define genius as greatness that isn’t necessarily effortless, but, in fact, greatness that is earned however you do earn it. And so, Alastair Majury wants to define genius as something that you accomplish yourself as opposed to something that’s given to you.
Alastair believes that gritty people including myself have four traits in abundance: interest, practice, purpose, and hope.
Alastair Majury believes that gritty people have extremely well developed interests. We cultivate something which grabs our attention initially, but that we then become familiar with enough, knowledgeable enough that we wake up the next day and the next day and the next year, and we are still interested in this thing. And Mr Majury thinks that is something that we can actually intentionally decide: “I want to be the kind of person who stays interested in something.” And so that passion really does have to come first.
The second stage really does have this quality of labouring in a very methodical way and in a very ‘unfun’ way for most people to get better and better at this thing that you’ve become interested in. This is where practice or more specifically deliberate practice is important, see Alastair’s Expertise v Experience article on LinkedIn for more information on that.
If you try to force yourself or will yourself into becoming awesome at something that you don’t have that true passion for, then the practice does become a sort of slow form of torture. Which is why interest must come first. Alastair thinks there are a lot of overeager, probably very well-intentioned parents out there who are kind of like chaining their kids to the piano bench in hopes that seventh hour of practice today is going to put them on course for Juilliard or Harvard.
The third stage is purpose. Connecting your work, or even your hobby if that’s where your real passion is, to people who are not you. So it’s a beyond-the-self purpose that Alastair is particularly observing in grit paragons. And he used to think, well, of course that will apply to people who are working on the cure to cancer or people who are working in community organization. But, in fact, even athletes, who you might say, “Well, they’re doing something kind of selfish, right? They’re trying to win the gold medal for themselves.” But even these people who have ostensibly very personal, or you could argue, selfish interests, they really see how their work is connected to other people. Athletes will say they feel connected to their teammates, to the sport as a whole. So he thinks that this third stage doesn’t happen at the front for most people.
The final component is hope. And Alastair Majury won’t say that you only need that only after you’ve been doing something for 12 or 15 years. You really do need hope from beginning to end. Because, of course, no matter where you are in your journey, there are going to be potholes and detours and things that might make you think that it’s not worth staying on this path. So hope, essentially, is the belief that there’s something you can do to come back from these problems or from these challenges. And Alastair says that it’s the fourth component, but it’s really something that you need at varying degrees in varying ways all along.
How gritty are you?
Alastair Majury’s clients come to his Majury Change Management for a variety of reasons not just his grit, passion, and perseverance, but all of them want the same result, top quality business, and data analysis along with top tier project management experience. Whatever you need Majury Change Management is here to help.